The Skipper
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The Skipper At Wembley
The Skipper At Wembley
The Skipper
The Skipper
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Tuesday 9th August 2005 - The day Phil Neville made his Everton debut. I'll always remember that day... not for that reason, but because it was the first Champions League appearance our club had ever made. The fact Moyes chose to throw Neville straight in to the team that day, a day which was one of the biggest in this clubs history shows the faith the manager had in him right from the start. 8 years later... it never waivered once.
At the time I had only just turned 15... Neville was 28. We are now 8 years down the line & in that time I have grown from boy to man... On the football pitch that also happened to Nev.
His career at United was a success. He made 263 appearances for the Red Devils picking up numerous trophies along the way. He was trusted by Sir Alex & regularly played over 40 games a season. That all changed in 2004/05. I don't know the details as I'm not a United fan but that season Neville only played 34 games for United in total. It doesn't seem a bad total but only 19 of them were in the league. The rest of the performances came in cup games which makes me think he was starting to become a bit part player & not featuring week in, week out like he had done in previous seasons. So... Neville had a decision to make. I'm sure a lot of players would have been quite happy picking up a decent wage, playing in the cup games & odd league game then taking the plaudits at the end of the season when picking up your winners medal. Not Phil Neville.
I couldn't tell you why David Moyes wanted to signed Neville from United or even why Phil Neville would want to join Everton. My guess would be Moyes would want Neville's experience, mentality & versatility. My guess as to why Neville would want to join Everton? God knows! I'm sure as a club who had just qualified for the Champions League we had a certain appeal but, with the whole Manchester / Liverpool rivalry a lesser man would have shy'd away from the challenge & looked elsewhere.
Phil Neville as a player isn't as 'naturally gifted' as most, I'm sure he would admit that but you give him a job to do & he will do it to the best of his ability whether it's in either full back position or in the middle of the park & more importantly to David Moyes... He was a player you could trust!
Recently he hasn't quite been the same player. I'm not saying he's 'past it' but whereas he is maybe losing half a yard it's becoming slightly more apparent as the likes of Gibson & Coleman seem to be gaining one. To be fair to Neville he has always been an excellent player... 59 England caps tells you that. I just feel he is now starting to become slightly undone by the 'modern game'. When Neville was growing up full-backs were there to defend & defend only in the English game. Now, your full back is your winger also. Back to the positives though...
Some of my memorable Phil Neville performances were the night he 'trended' on twitter due to having Gareth Bale in his back pocket in a game against Spurs. Another would be the Semi final against United at Wembley... to face his boyhood club & not only put in a solid performance but to step up & take a penalty in the shoot out took great heart.
There's a great photo from that day (below) & after seeing it I remember a few lads saying 'He didn't enjoy it' or 'He's still a Manc'. Not true! Phil Neville being the pro he is wouldn't have celebrated because it was his old club & he is full of respect. The other reason I believe... he's a winner! Phil Neville was a man brought up at Manchester United & winning a Semi final isn't an achievement to him. Winning the cup would have been!

Now it's time to talk about the man himself as Everton Captain. We all know he is a tremendous leader on the football pitch but off it as a representative for our football club & a role model... He's 2nd to non!
I've heard stories of him dragging the reserves out of the changing rooms & making them go back & pick up their training equipment which they had left lying around. He also kept all the Everton players behind one day after training to go & greet the new academy players & talk to them. There are many more examples of this & I don't think a lot of fans realise how valuable it is. I am by no means a football expert... I played at an amateur level for a few years before coaching at youth level & gaining a few coaching qualifications. What I do know is having the right 'role model' for these young kids is vital. When Neville joined Everton, Jack Rodwell was 14 and in the academy... this is what he had to say about Neville:
'One of the best players & person I've worked with, helped me loads, great captain. Congrats for everything at Everton mate'.

There are many more tributes similar. When you realise how important Phil Neville was off the pitch at our football club you start to realise what a phenomenal captain he was. I recently spoke to Mick Rathbone on twitter regarding Neville asking what he was like as a captain. His reply was simply 2 words... 'The Best'.
This was only meant to be a short blog but it has turned more in to an essay! People who don't support Everton won't understand why as there is no 'YouTube Highlight Reel' like there was for the likes of Cahill & Arteta as Phil Neville doesn't have many highlights (except in his hair... & maybe the step-over) but while I grown from a boy to a man watching Everton he was there week in, week out setting the example & leading my football team.
Skip, if you ever get to read this... Among your 6 Premier League medals... 3 FA Cups medals... 1 Champions League medal & 59 England caps in your trophy cabinet you need one other & it takes pride of place amongst the rest. The Everton Captains Armband.
With all your other honours you were part of a team. At Everton... you were the leader of it and that's the greatest honour of all.

Danny Bostock. Follow Danny on twitter ‏@Bozzy18

Comments about The Skipper
Had my doubts about Nev when he first arrived but he turned out to be inspirational, a superb signing. Good luck to him. Nice piece BTW.
Tony, Stoneycroft, 10:24 PM 12/04/2013
Biggest load of trash I've ever read in my life so he made a tackle on Ronaldo scored a couple of decent goals and waved his fist about. And that makes him a good player does it. Not in my eyes it doesn't. A lucky lad
Cods head , Walton , 9:05 PM 12/04/2013
I am crying after reading this article. I was one of the anti-Neville brigade at first (as all my nearest and dearest fellow blues never stop reminding me). However, that Ronaldo tackle turned it to love. Phil Neville is a winner nothing less. I am just so sorry that he never got to left a trophy for our beloved team, how he would have loved that. I hope he is happy and successful in whatever he does in the future, he deserves it. Nil Satis.
Lucky Lady, Wirral, 1:40 PM 12/04/2013
Brilliant article .fair play to Phil for leaving man utd and not wanting to pick up his money for sitting on the bench like most footballers nowdays .you always done a job for us Phil but I do believe age has caught up with your legs this year .I was lucky enough to be at goodison when we played Newcastle and you scored with a 25 yarder that just seemed to float through the air .all the best Phil .
Efc Ade , Midlands, 11:51 AM 12/04/2013
Hopefully Jags has been taking notes as he will presumably be our captain next season. He certainly couldn't have asked for a better person to emulate than Phil Neville.
Bert Welsh, Exeter, 3:18 PM 11/04/2013
As a few have mentioned that tackle on Ronaldo would be in a highlights reel along with the wolves goal, perhaps the West Brom goal in the cup? Winning penalty away to chelsea in the cup and that great celebration that went with it perhaps. The cheeky step over? One image I saw which gave an idea to his level of commitment was a picture from before a game in around 2008 or 2009 (when we had le coq sportif kit with the big white V) Phil was out injured and there was a picture of the players in their kits in the tunnel ready to walk out, Phil was there in his suit still talking to the players, giving orders or rallying them or whatever. Many other players would simply have taken their executive box seat and their prawn sandwich and sat in a lovely warm box, not Phil. If you want him to read it somebody should tweet him a link to this article.
Bored, Work, 2:21 PM 11/04/2013
A well deserved tribute and outstanding piece of writing. Well done Danny!
Paul, Warrington, 11:05 AM 11/04/2013
Nev was/is a great ambassador for Everton. In the week prior to the Man United semi final I was a guest of Barclays on a day at Goodison and Finch Farm. As part of the itinerary we were to have a 30 minute question and answer session with David Moyes and "a player". We all expected it to be a fringe player or someone who was injured. Instead we got Phil. They both arrived still in their training kits and stayed for an hour and a quarter answering every question, signing every autograph and smiling for every photograph. To do this so close to a semi final says a lot about our club and in particular these 2. Lesser men would have been happy with their medal collection, fancy house and cars and just used Everton as a wind down to retirement. Never the case with Phil. His highlights tape should be the goal at Wolves and the tackle on Ronaldo on constant loop! Thanks Phil, good luck wherever you move to and come back to coach us whenever you're ready.
Rob, Liverpool, 10:34 AM 11/04/2013
The tackle on Ronaldo!
macalex101, London, 9:58 AM 11/04/2013
An excellent read and makes you consider his role as a club captain and not initially what he was like on the field. Hoping his influence rubs off on the next club captain
Bri H, Kirkby, 9:05 AM 11/04/2013
I'd say thats the best piece I have read from a non pro Gonna miss Fizzer
Mike, Liverpool, 8:57 AM 11/04/2013
Great piece on a great Captain and TrueBlue thanks for everything fizzer18
Vince Ion, Newark Notts, 8:30 AM 11/04/2013
A fine piece of writing mate , it came from the heart me thinks
Tommy , Liverpool, 10:57 PM 10/04/2013
A very nice tribute Danny. Great reading. Hope you contribute more.
Spectator, Crosby, 9:31 PM 10/04/2013
Sitting in the gwladys street, during quiter periods of a game, you could always hear one voice over all others...super phil barking out orders to the rest of the team. Top bloke.
Gaz Williams, Hawarden, 9:05 PM 10/04/2013
Well said that man. His metaphorical boots will take some filling, hope to see him at the Grand Old Lady again where he will get the kind of welcome that befits his stature within the club.
Andy C, Khartoum, Sudan, 7:58 PM 10/04/2013
During the course of the 80's Howard Kendall urged all the players to go and chat with the travelling away fans during the warm up. As a young 18 year old Evertonian it was great, as I felt they were part of the loyal travelling away fans. They did it at every away game. After Kendall went that all stopped until Phil Neville came. He always has time to come over and have chat, a laugh and is always urging the younger players to come over. It is hard to say how important a captain he was, and still is, but he will be missed. Thanks for everything Phil.
john, Netherton, 6:15 PM 10/04/2013
Well written Danny, although Nev has never been blessed with skill or pace he brought a level of desire and a mentality that some at the club were lacking. I almost punched the tv when i saw we'd signed him but he's been brilliant. Good luck Nev
Rob, London, 6:01 PM 10/04/2013
Danny, a brilliant piece mate and I hope Nev does get to read it!!!
Michael Murtagh, Moreton, 5:52 PM 10/04/2013
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